Monday, January 13, 2014

Kitchen Demolition: Part 1

Let's get this kitchen renovation started! One of the final deciding factors in choosing a kitchen designer and contracting company was whether or not the firm would let us do any of the work. The firm we ultimately ended up hiring said during the first meeting that if there were any portions of the renovation that we wanted to do we could do them and those line items would be removed from the final budget.  The hubs and I quickly agreed that we could do most of the demolition and leave taking the wall out to the professionals. That decision saved us almost a thousand dollars. 

I'm a week behind in posting in terms of where we are, but I hope to catch up soon. I naively thought I would be able to blog this renovation in "real time" but quickly realized after the first night of demolition that my fingers were too sore to do anything besides drink beer on the couch. Actually, I couldn't even open my beer and the hubs had to do it for me. Yeah, that happened. 

Day 1: Go! 

We found out that the only thing securing our dining room floor was the quarter round. Awesome. After prying off the quarter round, and being careful not to ruin the molding, it took all of five minutes to get the dining room floor out of the house. 

We were thrilled to find that the plywood subflooring in our dining room was in near perfect condition. The lack of nails or adhesive holding down the floor probably assisted in that manner.  This meant we wouldn't need any major underlayment when it came time to put in our hardwood floors. 

One of the biggest time drains during the demolition was dismantling the sink, garbage disposal, and dishwasher. The dishwasher was hardwired into its own box in the basement. The hubs cut the power at the main breaker to the entire house to detach the dish washer's wiring.  He was terrified of getting electrocuted so it took a few minutes longer than anticipated.  I was there, with a flashlight, and with my cell phone ready to call 911 if needed. The flashlight was needed, the cell phone was not. Hurray! 

However, the garbage disposal still has us completely stumped. It was hardwired into a GFI box in the basement and that box also housed a light socket. So we left it to the professional electrician who is coming this week. Being wired into a light socket really threw us for a loop. 

We left the actual wall dismantling to the professionals, but we wanted to pound out some of the drywall for dramatic effect. That plug at the bottom right corner was not connected to any structure and was just hanging on the drywall. Once we saw that we just let it be. Another awesome find! 

The dining room all finished! Well, we took off the outlet covers on the wall since the wall is coming down and did a ton of sweeping and vacuuming.  Everything was look great at this point. My brother-in-law and his wonderful girlfriend had came over to help out with everything up until this point. It was around 3pm in the day and we told them to go home so they could watch the afternoon football game. They got out just in time! 

Then, we hit a major speed bump. We could see that the vinyl flooring in our kitchen was applied to the same laminate flooring that was in our dining room. The kitchen floor appeared to be higher up and we couldn't figure out where that difference was coming from.  Well, we found it! 

For some reason there was this backerboard-type underlayment in our kitchen. The laminate floor and vinyl were just dropped on top of this.  We had to get this sucker out in order to install our hardwood floors because we didn't know how crappy this thing was or how to match it in height to our dining room. 

It was laid out in 4x4 feet squares. We found the best removal technique was to use a small pry bar (best $3 spent ever!) to pry up one of the ends of the square. Thankfully, my brother-in-law happened to have a full size crowbar in his car that we thought to borrow right before he left. With the edge of the square up, the hubs would just use brute force to lift up the rest of the square. The key was to not damage the plywood floor underneath during this process.  

Then it was death by fasteners.  So many freaking fasteners. Each and every one of them had to be pried up. We didn't want to nail them into the plywood for fear that when we were nailing the floor it might cause a problem with putting in the nails.  If neither one of us could get a particular fastener up then we'd nail it into the plywood and just hope we didn't hit it with a nail when we installed the floors. 

Nearing the finish line! We did the vast majority of the demolition on one Saturday. We left the last few underlayment pieces in the kitchen wall by the plumbing fixtures for Sunday.  Then it was just cleanup, checking for more evil fasteners, and re-checking for more fasteners. The hubs swore there was an evil elf coming in behind us and putting more into the floor because we would continue to find more random ones every time we went through the room.  Also, the dogs were blocked out of the kitchen, dining room, and living room for this entire process because we didn't want them to get into something they shouldn't have or risk them stepping on something sharp.  Jax would just sit by the puppy gate and whimper every time you made eye contact with him.  Jewels was upstairs probably trying to figure out how to book a vacation to the dessert soaking up the sun. 

After measuring it 800 different times we decided to leave the fridge alone. Moving the fridge meant we would have to take the doors off and we ultimately figured once the wall came down it would be incredibly easy to roll the fridge out to its temporary resting place in the living room.  

Most random find of the day (besides two outlets not connected to any studs) was we found the shipping receipt for the laminate floors. They were shipped in March 1999. We found more old wallpaper and what looked like another sink hookup. We think that kitchen layout was moved around using those fancy European cabinets when the new floors were put in. 

Up next: the professionals come in and take down the wall! And then we finish the demolition. 


  1. Major DIY/demo/reno props to you guys!!! What a doozy. I'd need someone to open my drink, too. Excited to see more!

    1. Thanks! I thought taking down the cabinets would be a massive hassle, but I guess when there's four adults taking everything down it really wasn't too bad. The guys definitely did the bulk of the heavy lifting, but removing all of those fasteners still haunts my nightmares.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! We're trying to make use of the limited space we have available to us.

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